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Are you monitoring the reasons for employees leaving? 

The exit interview is the last point at which you can capture valuable insights about the organization.  These insights can be gathered by conducting exit interviews. 

In addition, there are other tools that can gather data and measure engagement such as;

  • Staff surveys
  • Forums
  • Discussion groups
  • 121s with managers
  • Performance reviews
  • Team meetings to name a few…

It shouldn’t be a surprise that some people leave organizations.  I’ve worked in HR for over a decade and it’s a natural occurrence.  Because people have different ways of being motivated; different ways of perceiving events; situations and need many different styles of being managed. 

For example, some people need micro-managing, in contrast, others prefer to be autonomous.  Some people are highly ambitious and others are looking for a 9-5 job with work/life balance.

Modern workforce 

In addition, we are working alongside 5 (maybe even 6) different generations for the first time in modern history.  Because we are living and working longer.  This brings with it a lot of diversity which is positive for businesses. 

Having a diverse workforce also brings lots of challenges; Working with people with different experiences, different backgrounds, different perspectives, and so on.  However, the positives far outweigh the negatives of managing a diverse team.

As a manager, you need to understand your team and communicate effectively throughout the duration of their employment. If this communication is a two-way process then you’ll understand when your team is no longer engaged. 

People move on from jobs for many different reasons and the exit interview is the only way to understand these reasons.

Here are the most common reasons:

  • Career Progression or seeking external promotion 
  • Salary increase (which normally comes with progression or promotion)
  • Conflict with their colleagues or their manager

Unless you collect the data about the reasons for leaving, the organization will not have an opportunity to address potential internal issues. 

Some reasons will be outside of the control of the organization.  However, there are some reasons for leaving that will give an organization lots of opportunities for improvement.

I’ve conducted a few exit interviews during my HR career.  In my opinion, collecting this data during an exit interview will potentially give organizations opportunities to improve their employer branding and reputation, the candidate journey, and employee experience.   

Other Reasons for leaving:

  • Relocating
  • Following spouse overseas
  • Lack of career progression
  • Poor performance
  • Lack of career path
  • De-motivated in the job
  • A personality clash with team members
  • A difficult relationship with manager
  • Relationship breakdown with manager or supervisor

Should you be truthful in an Exit Interview?

This really depends on your reasons for leaving the organization.  If you are leaving because you feel the company is toxic, or you haven’t been getting on with management, then it’s not a good idea to use the Exit Interview to rant. 

Think about it. 

It’s too late to bring up issues in the business to be of any benefit to you and your circumstances.  You could think you might be helping someone else in the business.  Probably not.  Most of the time the information you share in an exit interview is confidential.  HR will be pretty limited in what they can do with the information. 

Ask yourself, is it worth you potentially damaging your reputation to ‘help’ out someone else in the business?

Here’s what Joe James, MBA, MSCS, resident of Silicon Valley said on Quora:

The exit interview is your opportunity to say how much you enjoyed working for the company and how much you appreciate the great opportunities the company provided you. That’s it! Saying anything more will definitely not help you in any way, so bite your tongue and stop right there.

 

You may want to use the company or your former boss as a reference someday for future employment, or you may want to return to the same company for another job someday. Any negative remarks expressed by you during your departure will not help you in any way. But yes, they could come back to bite you later.

 

Don’t naively think you’re going to change anything in the company by being frank in the exit interview. You’re not. Just politely say thanks and goodbye and move on.  Quora, Should you be truthful in an Exit Interview?

Again, ask yourself, is it worth you potentially damaging your reputation to ‘help’ out someone else in the business?

Here are some suggested Exit Interview Questions;

The purpose of this list of questions below is to give you some suggestions and ideas to put together your own list.  Because you’ll notice there are some duplications in the different sections. 

In addition, you need to keep in mind that you will need to collate, understand, and interpret all the data you gather and all this takes time.  In other words, there’s little point in conducting exit interviews if you are not going to consider the information and make changes. 

Exit interviews, in my opinion, are time-consuming and there can be lots of administration and communication after gathering the information.  Therefore, this is worth considering carefully before designing the questions. 

General Exit Interview Questions

  • What’s the primary reason for leaving?
  • What other reasons made you start looking for other opportunities?
  • In particular, what triggered the action to leave the organization?
  • How would you describe your relationships with your colleagues?
  • Were you treated fairly and objectively while working at this organization?
  • Which company are you moving to?
  • Can you talk about the salary you were offered?
  • What are the benefits associated with your new job offer?

Questions about the relationship with the Manager

  • How would you describe your relationship with your manager?
  • Did you receive the guidance and career development you expected?
  • How would you describe his/her management style?
  • Did you feel there was mutual respect between you and your manager?
  • How valued did you feel in your role in the team/department or organization?

Job Content questions

  • What did you really enjoy about your job?
  • Was there anything you found frustrating about your job or particular tasks?
  • Did you work particularly long hours? What is your opinion on the work-life balance here?
  • In particular, what attracted you to the new job you’ve been offered?
  • What was your view on the appraisal process?
  • Did you feel your skills and knowledge were fully utilized in your role?
  • What was your view on the promotion or progression opportunities?

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Training & Development questions

  • Did you receive adequate training in relation to carrying out your duties?
  • In general, what did you think of the training on offer at the company?
  • What do you think about the development opportunities available to you within your job role?
  • Were there opportunities to improve your existing skills and knowledge?
  • Did you have opportunities to learn new skills?

Pay & Benefits

  • Did you feel you were paid adequately for the job role you performed?
  • What are your views on the benefits package (Pension, Healthcare, Dental Insurance, Life Assurance, Gym Membership, etc.)
  • Can you share the remuneration package the other company offered?
  • Did your pay remain aligned to the cost of living?

Company & Organisation

  • When you joined the company did you receive the induction and orientation you expected?
  • Take yourself back to your first day, did you receive the welcome you expected?
  • Did you have access to all the systems you needed to perform your job role on the first day?
  • What have you enjoyed about working at this company?
  • Was there anything frustrating about working here?
  • Did the organization honour and live up to its values and core principles?
  • How did you find the internal communication channels?
  • Would you suggest any changes or improvements in the ways the company operators?
  • What’s the general morale (in your opinion) within the organization?

Conclusion

In conclusion, the exit interview is the only opportunity to understand the reasons for your employees leaving the organization.  I would suggest it’s also another opportunity to understand the strengths of the organization and reveal possible opportunities for improvement.

Because it’s the only opportunity to gather data about the reasons for leaving, it’s worth the time and effort conducting these interviews. 

However, if you are going to conduct these interviews, file the information, and do nothing, don’t bother wasting everyone’s time.  In other words, the data is only useful if you are prepared to understand, interpret, and use it to make changes.   

About Dawn Moss

Dawn has worked in a corporate environment for over ten years providing Recruitment & Selection Services, and has been involved in Coaching & Educating Business Leaders, Managers and Employees in all aspects of the recruitment process.

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